How can informal STEM learning programs support individuals with mobility impairments?
There are many ways that informal STEM learning programs can support individuals with mobility impairments. Staff should consider adopting universal design (UD) principles. Universal design means that rather than designing for the average user, you design for people with differing native languages, genders, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and abilities. For more information, visit Equal Access: Universal Design of Your Informal STEM Learning Project.
Before patrons arrive at a facility, offering accessible web content will help ensure that patrons with mobility impairments can access important information, including details about accessible parking, entrances, restrooms, and navigation (e.g., the location of elevators, ramps, or lifts). Staff should also keep all pathways at least 36 inches wide, and follow other requirements set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Online articles such as ADA Requirements: Wheelchairs, Mobility Aids, and Other Power-Driven Mobility Devices can be especially helpful. Once patrons with mobility impairments have arrived at the facility, it is important for staff and volunteers are prepared to give accurate information about physical accessibility to the facility and to respond appropriately to requests for accommodations.
Asking patrons about their experiences and barriers is an excellent way to learn ways that you can improve access. The article Museums Are Finally Taking Accessibility for Visitors with Disabilities Seriously describes how the Museum of Modern Art in New York engaged a group of ten individuals with a variety of disabilities to inform their facility offerings, remodel efforts, and staff training.
For more information about supporting individuals with mobility impairments in informal STEM learning programs, visit the Access Informal STEM Learning (AccessISL) website.